Claiming a Google My Business (GMB) listing (also formerly known as Google Places) is the first step for any small business owner looking to perform local SEO. Getting started with GMB is a must for local businesses and something that will increase your chances of being shown on Google’s Local Pack, Local Finder, Google Maps, and even in organic rankings. It’s a powerful tool for connecting businesses and customers, locally. For those of you who haven’t signed up, you should do so now at https://www.google.com/business/.
Businesses with Google My Business (GMB) listings have access to the most valuable real estate on Google – Google’s Local Graph and Map Pack. I’m sure you’ve seen both of these before when searching for something locally:
In this article, I’ll assume you already have a GMB listing and will provide you with 6 important tips that I find many small business owners fail to do with their GMB account.
FUN FACT: GMB is so popular that it gets you on a property that hosts over 1 billion users per month. And, that’s just the number of people on Google Maps, Google’s 3rd most used product, behind YouTube and Google Search – the latter being Google’s 1st most used product, and that also connects with GMB!
1. Fill Out Your Profile Completely & Keep it Current
This may seem obvious, but make sure you take the time to fill out your profile completely. Your GMB listing tells users who you are, what you do, where you’re located, and other pertinent information to interest people in becoming customers. Neglecting to do so will make it more difficult for potential customers and possibly reduce your visibility as well. Furthermore, anyone can “suggest an edit” to your business listing, even a competitor! So it’s very important to monitor your information and keep it current.
Anyone can suggest an edit to your business listing, even a competitor! So be careful to always monitor and keep your listing up-to-date.
The initial priority of your Google My Business page should be:
- Business Name
- Phone Number
- Hours of Operation
There is more information to add, depending on your business type. For example, a restaurant owner should add their menu to the listing as well. You can also set attributes for specific characteristics about your business, such as “Has WI-FI” and “Offers outdoor seating”. This is all an important part of your GMB setup.
QUICK TIP: If you have multiple business locations, it’s ideal to have each GMB listing direct to a unique page on your website for that specific location, rather than taking them all to the home page.
Furthermore, set special hours for your business during holidays and other irregular times. There’s plenty of other information that needs to be filled out and keep it current!
2. Solicit Customer Reviews
Reviews on Google are extremely impactful on customer decision. Five little stars take up a prominent area in search results next to your name. Let’s take a look at the world of reviews summarized by a few interesting stats from Smart Insights:
- Customer reviews factor into 97% of purchase decisions!
- 58% of customers will hesitate or have difficulty making a purchase decision if there are no reviews available for that company/brand.
- The most important part of a review for a customer is the details, rather than the star rating.
- Nearly 1/3 of people don’t trust a brand without a mix of positive and negative reviews.
Google’s commitment to providing search results that are credible weighs heavily on consumer feedback on that business, brand, or product reputation.
When you initially search on Google Maps, it defaults to “Relevance” and not “Distance” – showing Google’s preference to quality results over proximity.
A sweet spot in terms of the number of reviews is 150 in the past 12 months. Once you’ve received this many, Google will automatically populate reviews on your AdWords Ads!
Don’t leave it at getting the reviews though. Make sure that you are responding to positive and negative reviews. Here are a few situations and possible responses to those:
- Positive Reviews: Respond by thanking these people for reaching out to you. Don’t just leave it there. Make sure customers that go the extra mile to leave you feedback to a positive experience know you’re listening and realize that you appreciate their feedback.
- Negative Reviews: Don’t get mad! The last thing you want to do is start a battle on reviews. Respond to negative reviews and try to take the rest of the conversation offline.
- Ratings without review details: Respond to positive ratings appreciatively and ask for details on what made it such a good experience. Something like, “Thank you for the 5-star rating! We’d love some more feedback on what made your visit so good!” Encouraging these people to leave details promotes your business’s relevance. If they are negative ratings without reviews, provide the reviewer with a way to take the conversation offline – “Hi. We’re sorry that you felt that your experience didn’t live up to your expectations. We always strive for positive experiences for all customers and would like to know what we could have done to make it that way. Please call the store and ask for me personally, Mr. Smith.”
QUICK TIP: People like to know they are talking to a real person. Sign all of your responses so that people know you are you – i.e. “Thanks, Mr. Smith. Owner”.
3. Enable Text Messages
Americans text message more often than they make phone calls. Keeping this in mind, wouldn’t it be ideal to enable text messaging for your brand?
Enabling text messages opens up a much larger communication channel to your potential customers. Consider for a moment the amount of people that search online while at work – hidden away in their cubicle where their boss can’t see their computer or cell phone screen, but could hear their voice! Text messaging, similar to video advertising that doesn’t have to utilize audio, opens up this area for discrete communication.
How to enable text/sms messaging on Google My Business?
- Sign on Business.Google.com
- Select the messaging tab on the left hand menu
- Input your cell phone number
- Verify your phone number by receiving a text messaged authorization code.
QUICK TIP: Respond to text messages promptly – Google’s watching! Your average response time is indicated on Google so that people can see.
4. Make Use of Google Posts
You can post on Google?
Released in 2017, GMB now allows business posts. These posts put additional information into your local graph by allowing image and text rich posts, that link to specific pages on your site. These can be set up as news items that disappear in a week, or as events that last through the duration of the event.
Just like all items through Google, the metrics are amazing. Each time your post is up, you can see the number of impressions and clicks each one generates.
QUICK TIP: Google has not acknowledged any inherent benefits in SEO from using Google posts. That being said, Google has been known to reward those that use Google products and it does draw more attention to users when they do search for your business, which could increase Click-Through-Rate (CTR).
5. Link to Other Google Services
There is an entire world of Google services that are out there and can stem from your Google My Business property. GMB can act as a hub for other Google entities. It is already attached to your Google+ business page, Google Maps, and Google Search.
It can also be seamlessly integrated into your Google AdWords account. GMB allows for you to use your Google AdWords call tracking number and can connect your location/reputation to Google AdWords.
When you connect your GMB account to your AdWords campaign, you also give your ad the chance of showing up on Google Maps!
GMB also allows for you to showcase your business through rich imagery and even virtual photography. Through Google Street View, you can get a photo tour added to your business:
6. Respond to Questions
Google questions are gaining in popularity.
Users are encouraged to ask business-related questions that show up publicly on your GMB listing. When these questions are asked, you will be notified, as well as people that have submitted reviews or have been to your location before.
QUICK TIP: Respond to questions quickly because if you do not, other Google users will! As the owner of your business, you are in the best position to provide accurate information.
There is value in proactive questioning and re-purposing content you already have. Most businesses have a FAQ page and most sales floors have questions they receive regularly.
Take these questions and “Ask” them on Google. Enlist help from these sales reps, waiters/waitresses, and other employees as well. Provide a response from your business page. This puts these questions in a convenient place for people to see. It also keeps people from asking these questions and not getting answers, or getting misleading answers.
Google My Business is a powerful and necessary piece of your business’s online presence. Local search hinges on businesses submitting their information to Google, to make it easy to convey to searchers in your businesses area. Integration with Google properties is key to online discovery and convenient searching.
With Google My Business, it’s in the name!
In case you have any more questions our you want to leave us some feedback, please drop us a comment below and we’ll get back to you as fast as possible!
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